Watford recently shocked the world with a comprehensive 3-0 win over the then unbeaten Champions elect, Liverpool. The Reds are still all but guaranteed to lift their first ever Premier League title come May but they won’t be setting any records for the length of their unbeaten run; it does, however, make you wonder just how they stack up to the other Premier League undefeated streaks.
5. Arsenal, 2001/02 – 30 Games
In the summer of 2001, the big news story was Sol Campbell’s move across North London in one of the highest profile Bosman moves ever seen but the 18 months that followed rubbed salt into very sore Tottenham wounds. The first half of the 01/02 campaign saw Arsenal suffer three defeats – all at Highbury – with the last of the trio a 3-1 reverse at the hands of Newcastle on December 18th. What followed was a 21 game run that saw the Gunners go unbeaten through to the end of the season as they dropped just six points on route to the title. The following season picked up where it left of with seven wins from nine games and then came one of the most iconic moments in Premier League history; it was the 19th October 2002 and Arsene Wenger’s team were at Goodison Park attempting to extend their unbeaten streak to 31 games but with just seconds remaining on the clock and the score at 1-1 a certain 16 year old Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene with that goal and the run was over.
4. Manchester City, 2017/18 – 30 Games
Like the 2001/02 Arsenal side, City also saw a run of 30 matches without tasting defeat and it began at the back end of the 2016/17 season when they won six of their last eight games – with the other two games drawn. The next season began with City swatting aside Brighton and then relying on a late Raheem Sterling goal to draw their second game; after that though City became a free scoring machine as they racked up 58 points from the next 60 available, which saw them set a record of 18 consecutive wins. The Citizens looked set to waltz their way to the title with many backing them to go the season unbeaten but a trip to Anfield on January 14th saw them lose a pulsating match 4-3. City eventually lost one other game – a 3-2 defeat in the Manchester derby – but still managed to set a record points total of 100 on the way to their third Premier League crown.
3. Chelsea, 2004/05 – 40 Games
Jose Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge labelling himself ‘the Special One’ and, boy, did he prove it. His first season started with a run that saw his team ship just two goals in their opening 10 games but one of them was the solitary strike that saw them lose at the City of Manchester stadium. Not to be knocked out of their stride though, the Blues went unbeaten for the next 29 matches, conceding just 13 goals in the process, as Mourinho guided the club to their first top tier title in 50 years. The 05/06 season saw the charismatic Portuguese lead Chelsea to another Premier League win but their unbeaten run came to an end in November in the same city where they last tasted defeat 40 games earlier but this time at the hands of Manchester United courtesy of a rare Darren Fletcher goal.
2. Liverpool, 2019/20 – 44 Games
The 2018/19 season saw Liverpool agonisingly miss out on the Premier League triumph their fans desperately crave as Man City pipped them to the title by a single point with a 2-1 defeat at City on 23rd January 2019 proving critical on two levels – one, it helped City win the league and, two, it was Liverpool’s only loss of the campaign. 13 wins and four draws saw Jurgen Klopp lead his men through to May without tasting defeat again and, after winning the Champions League, the 2019/20 season got off to a phenomenal start. After 27 games Liverpool had dropped just two points – a draw with Man United in October – and whilst a crushing defeat against relegation threatened Watford ensures Liverpool finish second on this list with a run of 44 games without defeat the possibility of a record breaking points tally is well within their grasp.
1. Arsenal, 2003/04 – 49 Games
With an unbeaten run of 49 games, Arsenal are the only team to feature on this list twice. The Gunners’ ended the 02/03 season ended with two back to back victories that saw Arsenal score 10 goals. What came in the following season is to this day an unrivalled achievement that saw Arsene Wenger achieve ‘a dream’ as his team went the entire season undefeated on their way to a league and cup double that earned them the nickname ‘the invincibles’; the closest they came to defeat was a dramatic 0-0 draw with Man United that saw Ruud van Nistelrooy smash an injury time penalty off the bar – much to Martin Keown’s delight. The start of the next season had Arsenal looking unbeatable as they took 25 points from 27 and a mouth watering fixture at Old Trafford on 24th October 2004 gave Arsenal the chance to hit the big 50 without defeat. For Gunners’ fans the match won’t conjure up fond memories though as their run came to an end in a 2-0 defeat; Van Nistelrooy converted a penalty to poetically draw a line under the ugly scenes that followed his miss in the prior season and with almost the last kick of the game Rooney, who had ended Arsenal’s unbeaten run back in 2002 whilst with Everton, provided proof to the world that Arsenal were in fact mortal.
There you have it, Liverpool might not have the glory of the ‘invincibles’ label but the debate over which team is better will rumble on for, probably, many years to come.